Friday, 17 June 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Expert Escapee

Can you believe that we're already more than halfway through June? It's crazy how fast the month is disappearing. Soon enough it'll be July with its Camp NaNo and my birthday and all that exciting stuff!

Option three definitely won (6 votes for it, one for 1 and an undecided vote for 1 and 3 both), and I'm rather happy about that since it was my favourite too. I have a plan...Oh, and just so you know, the new character/person/guard's accent is basically Spanish. Think Prince Caspian (2008 movie) or Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride). If you don't know either, poor you. And I guess I'll forgive you if you just make it up, I won't know after all. :)

“Don’t struggle,” a soft accent brushed my ear. “I am here to rescue you, mi seƱora.”

I couldn’t move for fear, it was just another trick, the guard would soon walk up and laugh at his fellow Cleaver’s wit and go back to guarding.

“I will untie your hands,” the man continued. “You mustn’t make a sound or they will set the dogs on us both.”

Very gradually the hands slipped away from my mouth and then came the rustle of quick fingers at the rope around my wrists. I clenched my jaw, waiting for the Cleaver to laugh and walk away. The rope dropped away, snaking to the ground with a soft sound. My arms fell to my lap.

Staring at my numb fingers, I strained to move them even slightly, waiting for some feeling. Pain tingled down my arms and I gasped, hunching over them and clutching them to me.

“Quiet, the other guards will hear.” The man slid into view and I looked up, stiffening at the sight of my guard.

He wasn’t really rescuing me, but maybe I could trick him and actually get away before he could tie me up again. Another stab of pain pulled a low cry from between my lips as I tried to move.

The guard scanned the clearing from his crouched position, hand resting lightly on the hilt of his rapier. “Come now, we must leave before the guard changes.”

He crawled forward, his cloak rippling across the rough ground like liquid camouflage. I struggled after him, falling on my face as my hands refused to be of any use. With a barely audible mutter the guard turned back, heaving one of my arms over his shoulder to support my weight.

I groaned at the blinding pain, half crawling, half being dragged toward the trees. Surely this wasn’t a real rescue, but then a guard wouldn’t go this far in a joke, would he?

Perhaps there was hope after all.

The guard dropped me to the ground, letting me curl up into a ball of moaning pain.

“Please, you must be quiet, the Cleavers are not deaf as well as heartless.”

I ignored him, trying to stop the pain.

“Wait here, and try not to make too much noise,” he murmured with a faint sigh.

“Where’re you going?” I croaked groggily.

My rescuer put his hand over my mouth again as the words came out louder than I’d planned. “There is a guard just ahead and there is no way he will not hear if we simply try to walk past.”

I nodded, barely listening to the words but trying to place the strange lilting accent.

“Give me five minutes.” With a rustle of his cloak he disappeared.

A dog snuffled loudly just meters away from where I lay, the grinding sound of teeth crunching on a stick. I pushed up to a sitting position, peering nervously into the dark. Dark shapes shuffled around a tree to my right, growling and snapping even in their sleep.

I stifled a sob of fear.

From the dark shadow of the trees someone grunted, followed by a crunch and a thump. Hunching over my knees, I strained for another sound, the alarm would go up any moment. Then I frowned, what if the guard was telling the rest of the Cleavers that I was sitting here just waiting.

Without thinking, I crawled forward, gasping again as my hands collapsed under me.

The sleepy grunts of the dogs stopped short.

I squirmed forward, wishing the pain away. The Cleavers weren’t going to catch me again.

A footfall close by made me jerk back, the tense cry slipped out before I realised it was there.

Aloud combined howl rose from the tied dogs around the tree.

The guard appeared from nowhere, grabbing my arm and pulling me into a run. Pain echoed in every corner of my mind and I stumbled and fell within a dozen steps. He hauled me upright once more, dragging me onward.

“You need to run,” he urged, pushing me to the side as I nearly crashed into a tree.

“I can’t,” I choked back, my legs collapsing under me.

My rescuer scooped me up, slinging me onto his back like a small child. “Then hold on,” he replied shortly, beginning to run again.

Branches ripped at my clothes and skin, reaching fingers to catch me. The howl of dogs bayed through the forest, thankfully not seeming to come any closer.

I forced my throbbing fingers to hold onto the guard’s shoulders, struggling to find a grip on the leather of his vest.

Then the howls erupted doubly loud. I guessed easily what it meant.

They were untied and on our trail.

My rescuer swerved to the side, jumping lithely onto a fallen tree trunk and running along it before leaping to the ground again. I ducked to avoid a branch sending us both off balance. The guard stagger to the side for a few paces, trying to keep his feet under him.

“Sorry,” I gasped, pain jolting my arms.

He grunted wordlessly, and kept running, crashing through the undergrowth of ferns and bushes, sidestepping around trees and fallen logs.

The faint light grew gradually, and we burst from the trees at a staggering run. The wolf-dogs seemed even closer now, their deep howls no less chilling when heard in the open. The guard stumbled down onto one knee.

“You will have to run now, I can carry you no further,” he said, chest heaving with exertion.

I slid to the ground, catching myself on his shoulder as my knees buckled at first. Taking a hesitant step, I realised that the pain had faded into the background. My guard started running again, barely showing a trace of fatigue.

The bare light from the stars and sliver of a moon just rising at our back lit the open space in front. A landscape of low mounds and narrow valleys, dotted with sparse trees opened up ahead.

Sprinting toward the nearest of the gullies, I leapt over a small bush in the way, unheeding to the small thorns that tore at my leggings. The edge appeared sooner than I expected and the ground under my feet slid away, sending me sprawling on the ground, slipping down. At the bottom I scrambled to my feet, groaning and bruised even more than before.

The guard followed more smoothly, jumping halfway down onto a rock and from there to the valley floor. “Keep up,” he spoke shortly, not pausing in his pace.

I tripped after him, my feet skidding on loose stones scattered across the ground. “How long…will we have to keep…running?” I panted.

“Until they’ve lost our scent,” he replied, ducking down into an even narrower gap off the side.

“What about walking through a stream?” I suggested, remembering something Maree had once told me.

“No good, there are no streams around these parts.”

Jumping onto a rock and swinging himself up out of the gully, he glanced down at me. “We’ll have to make do with rocks and jumping.”

Taking his offered hand, I clambered up after him, following as he dropped back down into yet another valley. The rocks underfoot made it hard to run, but my rescuer didn’t slow.

The howl of the wolf-dogs grew louder, they’d left the forest then. If they kept our scent it wouldn’t be long before they caught up. I didn’t like to think what would happen then.

Pain was throbbing in my legs and arms again, and I struggled to keep going. Any moment and the dogs will come howling down the hillside, I told myself. Keep going.

I stumbled, crashing into a rock and almost falling. The guard grabbed my arm and steadied me.

“Rest a moment,” he allowed. “Perhaps you will be able to run faster afterwards. If not, I will carry you again.”

“No,” I protested, hearing the howling in the distance still far too close for comfort. “I can keep going.” Trying to stand my legs turned to jelly and I slumped back on the rock. “Just for a moment then,” I muttered.

Closing my eyes, I buried my head in my hands, trying to steady my heart.

“What’s your name?” I asked, hoping to think about something more pleasant than being ripped limb from limb by a pack of bloodthirsty wolves.

Gravel crunched under a foot and I looked up. The guard was facing away from me, eyes scanning the horizon. I heard a clatter of stones behind me and before I could turn, something flew past me, hitting the turning guard on his temple.

With a grunt he collapsed to the ground. 

They were upon me before I realised. 


1. A rope jerked my arms to my sides, lashing them tightly in place. A manic laugh echoed in my ears. 

2. Dogs skidded down the gully side, launching into the air toward me. 

3. “Louise! You’re safe!” Leonora hugged me violently, both of us staggering several paces to keep our balance.


At the moment I don't actually have a favourite this week, I have a vague plan but it's still pretty vague. But that's why I've got you guys to choose for me. :)
I await your votes with greatest eagerness.

Fair Winds!

Jane Maree


  1. The poor 'guard' I vote for option three again.

    1. Yeah, he got thumped, poor him. :) Option three's a good one. ('cause it means that Leonora knocked out our 'guard' not knowing that he was actually a good guy.) :D

  2. Option three! I want to see Leanora and Eumin again :D.

    1. I was beginning to wonder how long it would be before I could somehow bring them back in again! But then, I never said that Eumin was going to be there too...nah, I'll probably just be nice and bring them both back together. :)

  3. Um 2.... like seriously, she is not safe.

    1. Course she isn't, and if she is it wouldn't last long anyway. ;)

  4. I think I am ready for her to be back among friends for a while. Option 3! Love the new character so far as well. He sounds very dashing! (no pun intended)

    1. Hehe, I am rather liking him too. As far as I know he'll be sticking around for at least three more weeks, but then, I could be wrong. :)

  5. We vote for 3 (the nice option). That's three of us for number 3.

    1. Thanks for voting! I have a vague feeling that three was the favourite...:D

  6. Awesome chapter :D ..I think I'll have to vote for option three again because the idea of Leonora knocking out the poor guard is just too funny to ignore xD

    1. Ah, at least someone else is seeing the funny side. xD


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